The archivists are responsible for the collection and management of Unilever's archives which span several centuries – in fact, our oldest document dates from 1295. The archives contain original documents, printed sources, artefacts and artwork, images and films.
The archive team are happy to answer your questions. To find out more about our important archive collections, what historical records we hold, and how you can use them, please contact the archive.
The high standard of the archive has been recognised by The National Archives (TNA), which inspected the archive in 2005. The Archive of the United Africa Company and the permanent Archive Collection are Designated Collections of national importance.
If you would like to use the archives for research there is a searchroom and library in the archive building in Port Sunlight. However, researchers should contact the archive in the first instance giving as much notice as possible of any intended visit. Please note that such visits are by appointment only between 10.00 and 16.00 UK time Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).
The Archive of the United Africa Company and the permanent archive collection are Designated Collections of national importance.
The former archive is of primary significance for the study of the evolution of British business and corporate organisations; the character of the transnational enterprise; the economic and political development of the main West African societies from colony to sovereign state and the problems of growing indebtedness and economic decline from the 1960s.
The comprehensive records held in the permanent archives recognise the global significance of the company and its predecessor companies, and are considered to reflect Unilever’s place in world trade.
Well-known companies, such as Colman's, Wall's and Lipton, as well as brands such as Persil, Pears Soap, Lux, PG Tips and Marmite, all feature in the archive. There are minute books, financial records, a wealth of advertising and examples of packaging, as well as architectural plans and maps to name just some of the types of records.
In terms of genealogical sources there are good runs of in-house magazines, many of which carry information about employees, such as long service awards, marriages and obituaries.
Also, in its early years, Lever Brothers ran a Co-partnership Scheme, which gave employees and their dependants a share of the company profits, and there are detailed card indexes to those in the scheme. Unfortunately, records of staff for many of the smaller subsidiary companies have not survived.
Key artists and exhibits
- Designated Collection
PO Box 69
Port Sunlight, Wirral
0151 641 4551
0151 641 4968